Processor for ERS-SCAT based soil moisture (EUMETSAT ERS-SCAT)

2005-06-01 – 2006-01-31

The water stored in the pores of the soil within reach of the plant roots ¿ commonly referred to as soil moisture ¿ makes up only a tiny fraction (0.005 %) of the global water volume. Nevertheless, it is of key concern for humankind because it controls the partitioning of rainfall into infiltration and runoff, limits evapotranspiration and transpiration, and is the water reservoir crucial for plan growth. Thus soil moisture is of high importance for applications such as numerical weather prediction, flood forecasting, drought monitoring, and greenhouse gas accounting. Since more than 30 years much research efforts have been devoted in developing remote sensing methods for soil moisture retrieval, mostly using microwave systems. However, the problem is quite complex given the confounding impacts of vegetation and surface roughness on the microwave signal. Therefore, only recently the first global, long-term soil moisture data set derived from a microwave scatterometer became available. This data set was produced by the TU Wien and has been distributed to users worldwide since 2002. In the meantime, many studies have demonstrated the quality of the scatterometer soil moisture products which has boosted the demand for these data. Fortunately, the availability of these data is guaranteed up to the year 2020 given that the next generation of scatterometer instruments will be part of the payload of the METOP series of satellites. To make scatterometer soil moisture products available to public, EUMETSAT has requested the TU Wien to develop a near-real-time processing system, as described in EUMETSAT's Request for Quotation 05/934 "Processor for ERS-SCAT based soil moisture". This is the scope of the current project, whereby scatterometer data from the ERS-1/2 satellites will be considered.

Project manager

Project members


  • European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites